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Self-belief is the key says Mills ahead of York City's play-off semi-final
BELIEF is the key for York City if they are to overcome Mansfield Town, reckons manager Gary Mills.
The Minstermen boss says confidence and the winning mentality he has instilled in his players since taking over the York hot-seat 18 months ago will help his team prevail over the in-form Stags in the Blue Square Bet Premier play-off semi-final.
Mills disputed suggestions and betting predictions putting York as the underdogs for the two-legged clash, the first match of which kicks off at 7.30pm tonight in front a likely packed house at Bootham Crescent.
And he said he had worked hard to create a confident mindset in his players and the club in general, which he believes can help York to book a second trip to Wembley in the play-off final on May 20.
“When I came to this football club I got the distinct feeling, from everybody around the club, that they thought they weren’t as good as Luton,” Mills explained.
“They thought they weren’t as good as Crawley, who went up last year. There was a mindset here that ‘we’re okay but we are not as good as them’.
“I couldn’t believe that, to be honest. Although it has not come overnight, the gradual mindset of everybody is that we don’t think there is anybody better. I don’t believe there is. I’m not afraid of anybody.
“That’s why I wasn’t fazed by who we got in the play-offs. It’s not being arrogant, or kidology, it’s fact. My mindset as manager, and I hope it’s the same with everybody else, is York are as good, if not better, than anyone in this league now.
“There’s nothing wrong with that. Does it bring added pressure? I don’t think so. It brings confidence and gives you that mindset of being winners. It’s about belief. Who should York fear? We are playing Mansfield and people are saying York are the underdogs.
“I don’t believe we are. That mindset is fantastic and it has given us a massive source of strength this season. It’s something I have tried to build. It’s a fantastic feeling for me and one I have turned round since I came in.”
Mills believes patience from players and supporters will also be important and says it is vital his players handle the Stags’ threat from set-pieces and aim to pick up another clean sheet.
He added: “Getting a lead going down there would be fantastic, of course it would, and if we do that then a draw is enough down there. It’s about being patient.
“We had the scenario with the Luton game (in the Trophy semi-final) when they had nine men and fans were losing patience that we weren’t winning the game by five, six or seven nil because of that.
“1-0 was a great result and I think, out of that, it wasn’t the one – it was the nil that did it.
“If you don’t concede you have a chance of winning football matches and I think that clean sheet ultimately got us through against Luton. So it is the same against Mansfield.”
Added the City chief: “We know the type of team Mansfield are. We know they will be taking throw-ins from the half-way line and getting it into our box and it’s a pressure, power game. They thrive on free-kicks, throw-ins and corners and we have got to handle that.
“When we do, we have got to play our game and not get sucked into giving the ball back. We have got to pass the ball and hurt teams when we can with our movement. We are more than capable of handling that situation.
“I want the players to go and show what we are capable of. It is about staying patient. I say to the players, ‘If we don’t score in the first minute, we’ll score in the 90th, 94th or 95th’. In this tie, it’s going to be, ‘If we don’t score in the first minute, we’ll score in the 180th’.
“Keeping the clean sheet is important. I am always confident we are going to score – whatever time it may be. That’s why we have scored so many late on.”